Alcohol should remain outside campus theater

On March 30, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow the sale of wine, hard liquor and 3.2 beer in Northrop Auditorium’s theater. If the bill passes in the Senate and is signed by Gov. Jesse Ventura, alcohol could be sold immediately. Northrop has been on campus for 80 years and has not been able to serve alcohol because of a law that prohibits alcohol sales within one-tenth of a mile of a University main administrative building. After all this time, a liquor license for Northrop will invite unnecessary trouble that is waiting to happen.
Northrop provides a number of activities to students and other community members ranging from music concerts to classical ballets. However, Northrop officials claim that in order to successfully compete with other Twin Cities’ theaters, they must be granted a liquor license.
Yet Northrop caters to a very different audience than these other theaters. It is important to remember that underage college students and sometimes even small children often attend events at Northrop Auditorium. Because this building is part of the University, the needs of students should be first and foremost. By allowing the sale of alcohol in the theater, Northrop reduces itself to playing the role of a bar and takes away one of the last places underage students can go for an alcohol-free evening.
Allowing the sale of alcohol promotes the idea that its presence is necessary to have fun. This unfounded view is already a large part of every college campus. Many people, including underage students, choose parties based on the amount of alcohol that will be present. Establishments in Dinkytown not affiliated with the University already have difficulty with underage drinking — The Gopher Hole was closed down when officials learned that underage students were being served alcohol. In this kind of environment, it is a bad idea for a University building to start serving alcohol. We do not need to bring such problems onto campus.
The University has actively campaigned to reduce the number of student drinkers. Alcohol awareness programs have permeated campus in the last few years. In addition, the residence halls have tightened their alcohol policy, attempting to create a substance-free environment for students. The sale of alcohol would undermine these campaigns by showing students the University supports drinking during social events.
Moreover, should theater patrons of legal age so strongly desire a drink, the multitude of bars within walking distance of Northrop offer ample choice after a performance. Theater patrons of any age should be able to enjoy a show sober. If it is so bad one feels compelled to drink, then a hasty departure at intermission is called for, not a beer.
The presence of alcohol should be confined to these off-campus areas. Introducing alcohol to a campus building will stop it from being a place meant for all students, and sends the wrong message. By serving alcohol in a University building, officials will promote the idea that alcohol is an important part of having fun. There is both a time and a place for alcohol, but a University building is neither.